Undergraduate Student Does Research at CERN, Switzerland

Martha Nunez

Martha Nunez

Martha Nunez, an undergraduate student working with physicists Bill Gary and Owen Long at UCR, spent 10 weeks this summer at CERN, Switzerland, her second visit in as many years to the research center. CERN is the location of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a powerful particle accelerator.

Nunez worked on the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment, a general purpose detector at the LHC. She directly contributed to the hardware and electronic upgrades for CMS at its experimental cavern. She also was involved in a search for supersymmetric signals.

“From working on these projects, I have come to appreciate the interplay between understanding the detector and searching for new physics,” she said. “The CMS detector is designed to exploit the full set of physics opportunities presented via LHC collisions by reconstructing remnants from the particle collisions, giving us a glimpse at particles that existed in the early universe.”

Nunez is excited about the physics that CMS is able to study and the possibility of finding new physics. Equally exciting and challenging for her is the construction and commissioning of the upgrades for the CMS detector.

“The detector was built by thousands of people from all around the world,² she said. ³Working on this project makes you a part of a huge international collaboration.”

A lasting memory for her is when she worked one day on the CMS detector 100 meters underground. She was sent down with a thermo gun and a voltmeter to check that the voltages for certain parts of the detector were not too high.

“I had to squeeze into small openings of CMS in order to connect the voltmeter into the detector,² she said. ³I will never forget this simple but very important one-day project for the smooth operation of CMS since it required me to explore every corner of the detector.”

She advises any undergraduate who has an interest in particle physics to jump right into research.

“Since the learning curve can be steep, having a passion for particle physics and research is important,” she said.

Currently, she does not know when she will be on the CERN campus again.

“But I do know,” she said, “that I will return as a PhD candidate.”

Jenerette Presents Research to Policymakers

Ecosystem science plays an important role in the development of adaptation and mitigation strategies for climate change.

Darrel Jenerette, an associate professor of landscape ecology in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, was a member of a distinguished panel of scientists who presented their research findings to policymakers on Oct. 9, 2014. Jenerette’s presentation was focused on cities, agriculture and wildlands.

The briefing was held on Capitol Hill, and was hosted by the Association of Ecosystem Research Centers.

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